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Russian Activists In St. Petersburg, Moscow Demand Savchenko's Release

ST. PETERSBURG -- Russian activists in the city of St. Petersburg have staged an protest calling for the release of jailed Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko.

About 10 activists on March 9 raised large letters fixed to wooden planks, to spell out "Save Nadezhda!" on the Neva River embankment in the city center.

Nadezhda is the Russian variant of Savchenko's first name, which means "hope."

The activists told RFE/RL that the sentence had two meanings -- a call for the release of Savchenko and to preserve hope in Russia about the future.

After 30 minutes, police arrived at the scene and made the activists remove the letters. There were no arrests.

In Moscow, two Russian protesters were detained on March 9 after displaying signs in support in Savchenko.

The protests came a day after police in Moscow detained 35 demonstrators, mainly women, for expressing support to Savchenko in the center of the Russian capital.

The majority of those demonstrators were released later on March 8.

Savchenko is awaiting the reading of a verdict on March 21 in a Russian court where she has been put on trial in connection with the deaths in 2014 of two Russian journalists in eastern Ukraine.

Kyiv and Western governments say she was kidnapped and illegally transported into Russia where she is facing a political show trial.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

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